Coming off a 24-14 win over the Indiana Hoosiers, Northwestern travels to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday. The ‘Cats will look to pull off the upset against the No. 6 team in the nation having won three straight in October. WNUR’s coverage from Columbus kicks off with the pregame show at 1:30 CST followed by all the action at 2:30.
Here’s how our broadcasters think the Wildcats will fare against the Buckeyes:
Amit Mallik (@amitkmallik): Northwestern 24, Ohio State 19
The ‘Cats grind out a tough midseason victory behind a dominant run game, and a defense up to the task.
Player to Watch: Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern. Northwestern’s star defensive lineman returns to his home state and wants to “finish what he started.” For the ‘Cats to have a chance, the D-Line needs to turn in its most fearless performance of the season, and that starts with the man who has owned the month of homecomings.
Sam Brief (@sambrief): Ohio State 42, Northwestern 14
Coming off of a loss, Ohio State will come out firing. Northwestern can put up a TD or two, but will lose handily.
Player to Watch: Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern. Containing the dual-threat J.T. Barrett is the #1 priority.
Ryan Fish (@ryanmfish): Ohio State 31, Northwestern 17
The Buckeyes’ upset loss to Penn State last week may have exposed some weaknesses, but it’d be foolish to expect Urban Meyer, J.T. Barrett and co. not to respond. This is just too tall of a task for Northwestern.
Player to watch: Curtis Samuel, RB, Ohio State. Samuel, a running back, has nearly twice as many receptions and receiving yards as the next highest Buckeye. Safe to say he’ll be on the ‘Cats’ radar on Saturday.
Ben Krieger: Northwestern 45, Ohio State 42
Ohio State comes out firing after the loss to Penn State, but Northwestern keeps pace as Clayton Thorson continues his recent hot streak. Just like last year, Jack Mitchell comes up clutch with a last second field goal in a huge game.
Player to watch: Blake Hance, LT, Northwestern. Thorson’s success is key to the Wildcats having a chance. He won’t be able to find receivers if he doesn’t have great protection.
Matt McHugh (@mattmcsports27): Ohio State 37, Northwestern 17.
The ‘Cats get their winning streak snapped in an ugly fashion, and can’t stop the Buckeye offense all game. They throw up a couple of points in garbage time, but this game isn’t really competitive at any point.
Player to watch: Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern. Walker had his best game of the year last week, and it’ll be interesting to see if he keeps it up against an elite Ohio State offense. He started off the year a little slowly, but he’ll have a chance to really show off on the big stage in Columbus.
Parker Johnson (@sportsbyparker): Ohio State 35, Northwestern 24
Northwestern puts up a good fight after a run of impressive performances, but a mad Ohio State team coming off a loss to Penn State closes out Thorson and Co. late.
Player to Watch: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. Northwestern hasn’t played a quarterback nearly this good, simple as that. I don’t think they can shut down the Heisman candidate.
Tim Hackett (@HacksawTim): Ohio State 38, Northwestern 21
Northwestern has played quite well over its last three games and much has been made of Ohio State’s loss last week to the newly-ranked Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes will be ready this week. In his 15 seasons as head coach, Urban Meyer’s teams have lost consecutive games just four times. And this year’s team has allowed just eight touchdowns all year. The Wildcats’ offense is the bright spot, surprisingly, at this point in the season and they will get some points regardless, but Ohio State is the far better team and plays like it Saturday afternoon.
Player to Watch: Malik Hooker, DB , Ohio State. Honestly, he’s a great player to watch because he’s so good. But actually, Hooker is one of the finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back this year, and already has four interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Austin Carr has been a revelation for Northwestern this year, and he can expect to have Hooker all over him. Whoever can win that battle has the ability to turn the tides in his team’s favor.
Josh Burton (@josh_burton1): Ohio State 40, Northwestern 10
Ohio State coming off a loss, combined with the Buckeyes at home is not too great a development for Northwestern. Of course, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the Wildcats during this 3-game winning streak but Ohio State is mad and will be pumped up for this game.
Player to watch: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. Northwestern had trouble with Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, Jr. and Barrett is a much better all-around quarterback than Armstrong, so he could have a huge game. The key for Northwestern will be to keep Barrett in the pocket, because his speed off the edge is what makes him an elite player.
Matt Hacker Teper (@matthackerteper): Ohio State 31, Northwestern 20
I can hear the other writers chanting already, “Ohio State is reeling, Northwestern is cruising, the ‘Cats will win”. In the words of Donald Trump, WRONG. Urban Meyer will have the Buckeyes fired up, and their size and skill will be too much for the Northwestern back seven.
Player to Watch: Nate Hall, LB, Northwestern. Fresh off winning the starting SAM linebacker spot, Hall will be tested early and often. For Northwestern to remain competitive, Hall and co. will have to limit OSU rushing to modest gains.